Here’s How Xbox And Microsoft Win The Next Console Generation

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Here's How Xbox And Microsoft Win The Next Console Generation


(Photo by Neil Godwin/T3 Magazine via Getty Images)Getty

Yesterday, my colleague Kevin Murnane wrote a great piece about how Microsoft’s floundering this console generation was ultimately a good thing for refocusing the Xbox brand, and will continue to drive innovation across the entire industry as a result.

Unlike the previous generation, in which the PS3 and Xbox 360 ended things at roughly a draw, no matter your fanboy camp it is an inescapable fact that in terms of pure sales, Microsoft was indeed trounced by Sony in the Xbox One/PS4 era. Sony is about to hit 100 million PS4s sold. Microsoft stopped announcing official Xbox One figures a few years back, but estimates put it at probably not even half of what PS4 has done over the same time period.

So, how does this all change next time around?

Have the Power Edge at Launch

While we are ending the current console generation with the Xbox One X as having the clear power advantage over PS4 Pro, things did not start that way. The original Xbox One wasn’t far behind the PS4, but even the slight power disparity at launch created the narrative that the Xbox One was the less powerful console, something that lasted for years until the Xbox One X came along. Clearly, Microsoft now sees the advantage of claiming the title of the most powerful console on the market, and if PS5 and Xbox Two debut around the same time, it will be helpful to flip that narrative on Sony this time around if they can claim an edge, however slight.

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Xbox Live)Getty

Focus on Gaming, Not Gimmicks

This is something that Microsoft already seems to have gotten the message about, as I think we forget that a big chunk of why the Xbox One struggled, which set it up for long term failure, was the insistence that the console be married to Kinect which increased its price $100 over its rival for practically no benefit, as I struggle even today to name a single game that was truly “better with Kinect” other than say, Just Dance. There is nothing like that on the horizon, and Microsoft has even gone so far as to avoid leaning heavily into VR as of yet. I don’t imagine we’re going to see an Xbox Two launch “better with HoloLens” or something, but if Microsoft can just focus on being the best pure gaming machine it will be, it will be better for it.

Continue Growing Xbox Game Pass and Force Sony To Follow

One of the best features of gaming on Xbox these days is the Xbox Game Pass, which gives players a huge variety of games to play at any given time for a small monthly fee, and that includes even new release Xbox exclusives. Sony has PS Now, but it’s just not the same thing at all, and if the Xbox Game Pass becomes enough of a feature, it’s possible Microsoft could force Sony to follow, just like they forced them to eventually start charging for PSN. And if they don’t? Well, this would remain a significant advantage for Microsoft’s console over its rivals, and should be a key selling point.

Have These Investments in Acquired Studios Pan Out with Great Exclusives

Kinect drama aside, Xbox One has simply not released an equivalent state of must-have exclusives the way Sony has this console generation. Xbox One has no God of War, no Spider-Man, no Bloodborne, no Uncharted, no Last of Us. It has Forza, and that’s really its only true jewel. Microsoft has acquired a huge number of high profile developers from Ninja Theory to Obsidian in an effort to change this narrative, and while some of those projects are still years out, if those bets pay off and Microsoft can start producing hits of its own that will change this narrative of Xbox not having nearly any worthwhile exclusives.

Have This Investment In Game Streaming Pan Out

Project xCloud is Microsoft’s big experiment in making game streaming work at last, and it seems possible they might even release separate streaming hardware to make that concept work on a console that isn’t Xbox. If Microsoft can pull this off and be the first company to truly get game streaming right, they might not win the console war, but end the console war, if suddenly you can stream even the most demanding games to your smart TV or PC or iPad or what have you instead of needing a expensive console to do the job for you. It’s a big reach to say that we’re about to see consoles go the way of the DVD player like we did when Netflix arrived, but this is literally what Microsoft is sinking a lot of time and money into, so I would not rule out a seismic shift in the industry when this arrives.

Launch With a Killer Fable 4

New console launches usually end up being relatively rough, unless you’re Nintendo and can pull some miracle like launching Switch with Breath of the Wild, a potential Game of the Decade. We know that Forza Horizon studio Playground Games is working on a Fable game, probably Fable 4, for Microsoft, the revitalization of a once-powerful IP for Xbox. It would be fantastic if this was not only A) good but B) a killer launch title for the next Xbox.

Revitalize Halo and Gears of War

It’s possible Microsoft is already doing this with Halo: Infinite, as we don’t know much about that game yet, but even if these series are the two staples of the Xbox brand, they are a long, long way from their glory days, and recent installments have just not recaptured the same magic as the originals. I don’t know whether it’s time to retire these series (we’re up to what, eight full Halo games, five Gears of Wars?), but it does feel like time to evolve them in meaningful ways, and I don’t think just more iterations of campaign/multiplayer/the end is going to do it. I’d like for these series to evolve in more meaningful ways than what we’ve seen, or else their launches will continue to be underwhelming.

That’s my take, what’s yours?

Follow me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Read my new sci-fi thriller novel Herokiller, available now in print and online. I also wrote The Earthborn Trilogy.





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